One of the characters in Kent Haruf’s novel Plainsong, is Victoria, a seventeen-year-old girl who is four months pregnant. When her boyfriend finds out about her condition, he breaks up with her. And when her mother finds out, she kicks her out of the house and says to her, “You got yourself into this mess, and you can get yourself out of it.” It is low point in the story, and your heart aches for young Victoria. She has been abandoned by the very people that should be surrounding her with their support.

That’s where the McPheron brothers come in. The author describes them as a pair of “crotchety” old cattle-farming bachelors who know more about cows than they do teenage girls. When they are asked to take her into their care, they have to think about it. I mean, who wouldn’t? Right? The author says, “They looked at her, regarding her as if she might be dangerous. Then they peered into the palms of their thick callused hands spread out before them on the kitchen table and lastly they looked out the window toward the leafless and stunted elm trees.” Then, before you know it, you see them rushing around shopping for cribs, stocking up on diapers and baby clothes, essentially winning the love of this hapless young girl, and watching over her with a tender – even if somewhat clumsy – tenacity, covering her with their protective resolve that no harm shall befall her, taking her under their wing, so to speak.